Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Download Audio Books for the Visually Impaired: Technology at Its Best

The following article was posted to the My Top Gossip blog and is reposted here for your convenience.

The goal of technology is to make people’s lives easier, more convenient, and better. Nowhere is this more prominently demonstrated than in audio books for the blind.

Our society has always been visual and is becoming increasingly so: from newspapers and books to computer screens, blind people have faced the struggle of accessing information that is readily available to most other people. The ability to read a book or newspaper is taken for granted by many of us, but it is a pleasure that is often denied the blind.

In today’s society, we obtain a great deal of information and entertainment using computers and the internet. Because they are very image-based, blind and visually impaired people struggle much more to access comparable information. Nor is Braille that much more convenient. While it does allow people to enjoy written language, it can be expensive and out of reach for many blind people.

With one seemingly simple advancement, doors to gaining information, being entertained, and staying current with the news were thrown open: enter audio book downloads for the blind.

For the first time, visually impaired people could go online and download audiobooks of their choice. The mass production of audio books for the blind, the opportunity came to learn in a way that had never been available before. In addition, the audio books were inexpensive or even free, making them accessible to most blind people.

In this case, technology has provided an enormous benefit for people around the world: blind people can now obtain an education that they would not have even five years ago.

Art, music, drama, history, geography, economics, current events, fiction, biographies, poetry - no genre, subject, or style is off limits when you access unabridged audiobooks. Visually impaired people have access to the world of knowledge that was previously housed in books, newspapers, or magazines.

In the area of education, audio books have been particularly helpful and effective. Core subjects of reading, writing, math, and science are able to be learned through audio books, making easy access to education a right enjoyed by the blind and visually impaired.

Audio books for the blind also provide an opportunity for entertainment. Now, blind and visually impaired people can simply hear a story for pleasure, and the choices are diverse. Thousands of books - all different forms of fiction and nonfiction, contemporary or classic, popular, and more obscure - are available for the enjoyment of blind people.

With all the technological advancements being made, it is easy to forget the people that are an integral part of the equation. Audio books for the blind are an example of technology at its best and most helpful.

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